Transitional Homes and Recidivism Rates among Female Ex-offenders

Being an offender means lots of negative images from the society as
people are assumed as being unable to live in the society, as well as
coexist peacefully with other people. It is apparent that most convicts
are convicted over serious criminal offenses, which cause pain, agony
and torturous memories to the victims and their relatives (Confronting
Recidivism 55). In such cases, the public develops a negative attitude
towards the offenders and acceptance of such culprits becomes
problematic. Any person who experiences rejection from their friends and
family is likely, to either become isolated or engage in activities,
which tend to fight the social norms. Such actions might result to
breaking of the law thus lead to recidivism of the ex-convicts.
Transitional homes offer an avenue to offenders which ensure a seamless
reintegration of the offenders into the society through elimination of
barriers and other challenges. Supportive transitional housing strives
to solve the problem of chronic homelessness, chaos that are related to
homelessness of offenders, as well as a return to incarceration. In the
past, the government and the correctional department had relied on
emergency housing and shelters for offenders (Confronting Recidivism
58). Unfortunately, these emergency shelters were found, to delay the
vicious cycle of offenders from the prison to the streets and eventually
back to jail. Therefore, transitional houses broke the vicious cycle
that ensured that offenders always found their way back to jail.
Transitional homes work in a properly organized process, which begins
when the offender is released from jail (Jones 47). The process involves
the prison administration, as well as the parole officers who are
required to approve the release of offenders into the transitional
homes, which are expected to facilitate smooth reintegration of the
offender into the society. Therefore, offenders cannot leave prison,
without a home plan that is approved (Confronting Recidivism 75). The
approved plan requires the parole officer who is accountable for the
supervision of the released offender to complete an investigation, as
well as consent that a striking plan will facilitate successful
reintegration.
At this juncture, it is essential to note that entrance into
transitional homes starts in the institution of incarceration. The
parole board grants parole to an offender and following this parole that
the offender is responsible for acquiring an acceptance program in the
society. This is a challenging task, which require the assistance and
help from the parole officer of the field, parole board, as well as the
correctional institutional (Jones 57). Owing magnitude of the offense
that the offenders had committed acceptance to the community programs
could become extremely difficult. In the entire procedure of getting
ex-offenders back to the community and beneficial programs, transitional
homes act as pillars that support the entire procedure (Weiman et al
118).
It is apparent that America has encountered a tremendous increase in the
women ex-offenders incarceration, as well as female recidivism in the
previous decades. The problem has raised concerns over the unique needs
for women ex-offenders, which hinder successful reintegration with their
families and friends (Confronting Recidivism 85). The shocking increase
in women ex-offenders recidivism goes against expected trend and
pattern, especially because more men than women are sentenced to serve
jail terms. Women face more challenges as they re-enter the community,
needs that are associated to family and children problems, substance
abuse and employment (Jones 67).
The theatrical increase in the number women and men prisoners in federal
prisons has become common knowledge, in the US. However, there is a
serious phenomenon that is not given any significant consideration by
the authorities. This phenomenon is the alarming elevation in the number
of people who are returning to their homes and neighborhoods following
successful completion of a jail term or sentence (Jones 88). Evidently,
these individuals are not prepared at all for the process of
reestablishing their lives, as well as their sources of livelihoods
(Weiman et al 221). It is estimated that more than five hundred
thousand inmates are released to the community every year, in the
entire nation. The greatest concern that emerges from such high numbers
of released prisoners, as well as their return to the community, is
their preparedness and thee preparedness of the community to coexist
harmoniously with the people. The former inmates require room and
chances in the community and friends employers and family members
should be willing to create the required room (Sprague 167).
It is apparent that all prisoners have challenges that confront them
upon their release. These challenges intensify when it comes to women
as their transition from jail to the community. People go to prison for
breaking the law in one way or the other, as well as the factors that
push women to commit crime are relatively different from the factors
that push men to crime. The criminal behavior among women carries great
consequences, especially due to family, children and relationships
(Jones 147).
On the contrary, it is significant to point out that the process of
re-entry and reintegration of offenders does not always encounter
challenges. With ample assistance and help from relatives and friends,
most offenders enjoy a smooth reintegration to the society as they find
ready accommodation and jobs to carry on with their lives (Confronting
Recidivism 155). Such individuals enjoy a smooth ride back to their
status in the society, and people forget that they were ever imprisoned.
The lucky offenders who do not struggle for their restoration in the
community are extremely few thus the majority of offenders encounter a
transition that is full land mines, which are tripped easily sending the
offender back to prison. A study that was conducted in 1994 revealed
that, in less than four years, more than 55% of women were rearrested.
Further, a similar percentage of female offenders were reconvicted while
almost 40 percent of women were returned to prison for violating parole
technical conditions or new jail sentences (Sprague 87).
There is a new trend among women offenders who get re-incarcerated,
which shows that these offenders are not returned to prison for new
crimes, but violation of parole terms and conditions (Jones 47). The
progression of a single time criminals to repeat offenders leads to
victimization of women to the social forces of material cost, physical
and psychological cost to the communities and individual, as well
(Weiman et al 111). New crimes among women offenders result from poor
social skills by the prisoners who join the community from prison.
Women recidivism has been found to increase due to lack of proper skills
among women prisoners, which are vital to adapting to the new life in
the community (Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act 88).
Most women miss employment opportunities due to lack of work skills, as
well as significant work competence and training. This problem is
escalated by the histories of crime and substance use among women thus
making it difficult for a person to accept them as trusted employees or
workmates (Confronting Recidivism 55). The situation that such women are
left to operate leaves them no option, but to resume their criminal
activities, which got them arrested and jailed in the first place. It is
imperative to note that, crime is a way of earning a livelihood,
although these means of survival are not legitimized by the society.
Barriers that Women encounter following their Release and eventual
recidivism
Unlike men, women offenders encounter lots of obstacles and barriers,
which hinder their successful re-entry into the community. These
hindrances motivate women offenders to relapse into their former
criminal behaviors, which are not desirable to the society, as well as
in the justice system (Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act
89). The initial obstacle is re-establishing family life and the life
of a home. The life of a family calls for having a stable home, stable
relationship (intimate), as well as physical and legal custody of the
kids. It is evident that women who have ever been involved in criminal
activities are deemed unfit to regain custody of their children (Weiman
et al 111). Women have strong emotional attachment to their kids, and in
the event that a former convict is denied access and control of her
children, the woman might lose purpose in life and result to former
criminal behavior. Lose of purpose in life results, in carelessness
substance use and disregard for the law (Sprague 67).
Secondly, the increasing numbers of women who are leaving correctional
facilities do not access housing that is affordable. Besides housing
expenses, the rest of the basic needs become a nightmare to accomplish
thus making life hard and hard by every passing minute. Most men do not
encounter such problems because of their occupational flexibility
(Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act 91). Further, the
patriarchal society tends to favor men and give privileges to men at the
expense of women. Therefore, a man can easily adapt to a friendly
environment whose social structures and systems are orientated to give
preference to men. In the same note, criminal offences by men are seen
as normal offences, without serious repercussion, but in the event that
women commit similar offences, the society becomes extremely harsh on
the women.
The judgmental position that the society takes on women complicates the
possibilities of women getting gainful employment, which gives lucrative
pay. Securing a well paying occupation requires academic and
professional competence, which is hardly available to women, leave alone
prisoners. Therefore, women go to jail with minimal educational and job
experiences, and they leave the correctional facilities with little
gains on skills and experiences (Reauthorization of the Violence against
Women Act 88).
Furthermore, women are crippled by the dilemma of choosing whether to
continue with the intimate relationships that they had before going to
prison. The issues of previous intimate relationships are complicated by
the possibilities of exploitation and abuse in the former intimate
relationships that women had established (Reauthorization of the
Violence against Women Act 118). The extent of exploitation and abuse
might vary from physical abuse, sexual abuse to psychological and
emotional abuse. There is a possibility that abusive relationships and
marriages are the chief causes of criminal behavior. However, women who
fail to secure their position in the transitional home might find
themselves desperate for accommodation thus jumping from prison to an
abusive intimate relationship (Sprague 67). Therefore, such social
situations will result to direct recidivism especially substance abuse
as the women tries to overcome exploitation and abuse.
Further, social influence is a significant aspect of human life,
especially positive influence from role models. Human beings imitate the
behavior of other people as they try to assert their personality and
character. Therefore, women offenders and ex-convicts could benefit from
rich connections of relational web, encourage positive thinking, as well
behaviors and attitudes that do not bear criminal notions and
tendencies. The obstacle that hinders successful formation of rich
social resources from friends and relatives disappoint the smooth
reintegration thus resulting to recidivism (Reauthorization of the
Violence against Women Act 128).
Another hindrance to successful social acceptance and positive living,
by women offenders, is the requirement to adhere to the multiple and
demanding parole conditions. The worst situation is when women are
required to refrain from deep rooted problems as drug abuse, as well as
drug addiction. Although problems with maintaining sobriety is addressed
by the transitional homes, especially the homes that are equipped with
sober houses, the possibility of relapse is increased by the poor
company and loneliness (Reauthorization of the Violence against Women
Act 128). Therefore, the likelihood of recidivism to drug addiction and
alcoholism continue to increase among women prisoners, and it is almost
becoming a situation that can be predicted.
The final obstacle that women wrestle with in the society is maneuvering
the perception of women ex-prisoners, which are strongly held by
prospectus employers, as well as the general public. Stigmatization push
women to the corner and they are compelled to hide their face from
criticism. These problems that women encounter do not only make an easy
target for relapse and recidivism, but also make it almost impossible
for women to survive in the society. It is worth noting that, when women
realize that society does not give them a chance to reunite with their
fellow country men and women, the women engage in antisocial behaviors,
which are aimed at fighting the communities as drug use and
prostitution. However, such choice of actions worsens the circumstance
as the vicious cycle of serial offenders kicks on leading to new
sentences (Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act 177).
Studies indicated that most women who get arrested for various offenses,
as well as the women who encounter the highest tendencies for recidivism
are the unmarried and young women. These women exhibit serious
limitations in work experience and job skills, despite the towering
childcare responsibilities. These duties are so much for the young
women, and they seek refuge in and emotional support from anything thus
the high incidence of drug abuse among young women (Reauthorization of
the Violence against Women Act 288). There might be periods of total
sobriety following an effective intervention from transitional homes and
programs, which are tailored to address the problems of these women, but
relapse on drugs and criminal behavior catches up with the women within
a short period.
Moreover, statistics indicated that women prisoners were individuals who
had encountered traumatic abuse that were extremely extensive. The
traumatic experiences could have been encountered in childhood or even
adulthood under the torturous acts of their partners who might be
intimate. It is apparent that traumatic experiences result to heightened
anxiety, which can escalate and develop to stress. People who are
stressed out by life events can either succumb to the stress and become
depressed, or turn to drugs as a way of confirming their confidence and
forget the disturbing memories (Reauthorization of the Violence against
Women Act 178).
As women serve their jail terms, they develop a sense of belonging and
attachment to the prison life. This attachment is based on new friends
that women prisoners make, as well as the few benefits that such people
get in prison as a guarantee for meals and security. In the event, that
the prisoners are released, the women entire the society with little
knowledge on how to utilize community resources in productive ways. The
life of these prisoners had been entirely tied to the prison and the
prison environment (Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act
228). Therefore, these poor women do not comprehend life skills outside
prison, and this reality makes the women lose hope in life. The only way
of exiting a hopeless situation is through antisocial behaviors, which
tend to call for help or seek attention.
Trends of Recidivism
Ex-prisoners spend a considerable period in the transitional homes,
although this period might vary depending on the unique needs of the
offenders or sex. Women are more likely to spend a longer period in the
transitional homes than men (Reauthorization of the Violence against
Women Act 328). However, research and studies indicate that transitional
homes reduce the recidivism rates with a significant margin. The rate of
re-incarceration has diminished over the recent decades indicating that
the purpose of transitional homes is being realized and experienced, by
the correctional and re-integration departments (Weiman et al 108).
Reports from transitional homes recorded decreased rates of recidivism
for women, although the rate was still high (Weiman et al 131). The
reports indicated an estimated 20% of prisoners who were arrested and
charged with new criminal offenses. The rate of re-arrest on the grounds
of technical violation of parole requirements was slightly higher than
the former rate as the latter indicated a rate of 30%.
Moreover, the recidivism trends indicate that women prisoners who
serving their terms in county jails were more susceptible to recidivism
that prisoners from state prisons. Further, young prisoners (18-24
years) are more likely to recidivate than elderly prisoners. These
trends indicate young prisoners forget the problems of being imprisoned
fast as they struggle with the youthful energy, which seem to push them
to crime and drug abuse. Mon the contrary, recidivism rates diminish as
the age of offenders increase. Unique housing in transitional homes as
sober houses was found to reduce the rates of recidivism, especially
with problems of drugs abuse and alcoholism (Jones 247). The same
observation was made that transitional houses reduces the rates of
recidivism through violent behavior, as well as violent crimes due to
effective programs that re-orient ex-prisoners on the easiest and
seamless re-entry into the community.
Works Cited
Confronting Recidivism: Prisoner Re-Entry Programs and a Just Future for
All Americans : Hearing Before the Committee on Government Reform, House
of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session, February
2, 2005. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2005. Print.
Jones, Louis N. Equipping Your Church to Minister to Ex-Offenders.
Washington, D.C: Conquest Books, 2000. Print.
Jones, Louis N. Help! My Loved One Is in Prison: Practical Steps to Take
If Your Friend or Loved One Is Currently or Formerly Incarcerated.
Washington, D.C: Conquest Books, 2005. Print.
O`Brien, Barbara. Blogging America: Political Discourse in a Digital
Nation. Wilsonville: William James, 2004. Print.
Reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act: Hearing Before the
Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Ninth
Congress, First Session, July 19, 2005. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2009.
Print.
Sprague, Joan F. A Manual on Transitional Housing. Boston: Women`s
Institute for Housing and Economic Development, Inc, 1985. Print.
Weiman, David F, Michael A. Stoll, and Shawn Bushway. Barriers to
Reentry?: The Labor Market for Released Prisoners in Post-Industrial
America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007. Print.
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